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Swain’s Wood – 30 June 2019

Alan Parfitt led a walk at Swain’s Wood near Christmas Common on Sunday 30 June. The group gathered in warm sunshine around the village green at Northend, before setting off down Holloway Lane. The path in to the reserve led through Beech woodland, which grows on the Clay-with-flints that caps the Chalk. Swain’s Wood reserve, which is managed by BBOWT, lies on a steep south-west facing grassy hillside on the Chalk. Large numbers of orchids were in flower. Most numerous were the Common Spotted-orchids, which were a little past their best. Amongst them were quite a number of Chalk Fragrant-orchids, which were mostly pink, but with a few white specimens as well. Most of the Pyramidal Orchids were the characteristic deep pink, but a few were white or pale pink. Bee Orchids were scattered across the reserve and there were also a few Common Twayblades. Other flowers included Common Rock-rose, Wild Marjoram, Salad Burnet, Carline Thistle, Fairy Flax, Yellow-wort, both blue and pink forms of Common Milkwort, Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious, Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Common Centaury, Dark Mullein, Wild Thyme, Lady’s Bedstraw and Agrimony. Scattered bushes of Wild Privet were covered in creamy blossom. By contrast, the bottom part of the reserve, which had been grazed by sheep in the spring, was mostly without flowers. Meadow Brown and Marbled White butterflies were abundant and a few early Ringlets and a Painted Lady were seen. Small orange Skipper butterflies flitted through the grass, but none stayed still long enough for positive identification. Equally elusive was a large orange Fritillary butterfly. A small bee carrying a blade of grass was identified as a Red-tailed Mining Bee Osmia bicolor. A Buzzard circled overhead. On the walk back, the vegetation round the large village pond in Northend was investigated. Plants seen here included Brooklime and Ragged-robin and a Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly was also noted.

Pictures by Rob Stallard

English NameScientific Name
Plants seen:
Pyramidal OrchidAnacamptis pyramidalis
Common Spotted-orchidDactylorhiza fuchsii
Common Rock-roseHelianthemum nummularium
Hedge BedstrawGalium album
MarjoramOriganum vulgare
DogwoodCornus sanguineus
Common Bird’s-foot-trefoilLotus corniculatus
Dog’s MercuryMercurialis perennis
Germander SpeedwellVeronica chamaedrys
Salad BurnetPoterium sanguisorba
Quaking-grassBriza media
Chalk Fragrant-orchidGymnadenia conopsea
Common MilkwortPolygala vulgaris
AgrimonyAgrimonia eupatoria
Greater KnapweedCentaurea scabiosa
Wild ParsnipPastinaca sativa
Carline ThistleCarlina vulgaris
DewberryRubus caesius
Common NettleUrtica dioica
TimothyPhlaeum pratense
Common CentauryCentaurium erythraea
Cock’s-footDactylis glomerata
CowslipPrimula veris
Bee OrchidOphrys apifera
Fairy FlaxLinum catharticum
Military OrchidOrchis militaris
Dark MulleinVerbascum nigrum
Hairy St John’s-wortHypericum hirsutum
False BromeBrachypodium sylvaticum
RaspberryRubus idaeus
Wild PrivetLigustrum vulgare
Yellow-rattleRhinanthus minor
Black MedickMedicago lupulina
Field ScabiousKnautia arvensis
Field-roseRosa arvensis
EyebrightEuphrasia spec
Bladder CampionSilene vulgaris
TwaybladeNeottia ovata
Meadow Brown
Marbled White
Painted Lady
Red-tailed Mining BeeOsmia bicolor

List by Renée Grayer